A discount supermarket should not be built in a North Clare town because part of the proposed site may have been used as a children’s burial ground, objectors to the project have claimed.
Aldi Stores Ireland Ltd was granted permission by Clare County Council last month to demolish Ennistymon Mart and build a single-storey discount foodstore on the site.
Now, the Save Ennistymon Mart Committee has submitted an affidavit, sworn by one of its members, to An Bord Pleanála claiming a woman who had lived in the town “had arranged for a priest to bless a part of the Fair Green below Doherty’s gate under which…the bodies of small children had been buried”.
“These were unbaptised children whom the Catholic Church did not allow to be buried inside the grounds of the church and graveyard, which is nearby,” the affidavit from local farmer Tom Clair states.
The group has opposed the closure and sale of Ennistymon Mart since it was first mooted. They subsequently objected to the development at the planning stage. Now its members say they believe “there is a strong likelihood that the south-west corner of the site (which is beside the graveyard) has been used in the past for the burial of non-baptised babies”.
Local residents also objected to Clare County Council against the proposed development but last month the local authority granted permission for the project. As well as the appeal from Save Ennistymon Mart Committee, An Bord Pleanála has also received two other appeals, one from local residents and another from a former Mayor of Clare, calling for the council’s decision to be overturned.
Save Ennistymon Mart Committee are appealing the permission on a number of grounds, including that the site may have been used as a burial ground. They also believe the site is too small and too steep, that the proposal has not been satisfactorily described, that a retail case made for the development is inadequate and that it would have an adverse impact on the viability and vitality of Ennistymon Town Centre, the architectural heritage of Ennistymon and the residential amenity of Church Hill and Circular Road.
The residents of these two areas made a joint appeal against the decision by the planning authority. The residents of Church Hill claimed there would be a loss of privacy due to the height of the building, that there would be a loss of natural light and an increased dampness to the fabric of some of the houses, resulting in a loss of value for future sales.
They also stated that a long-established right-of-way, essential for fuel and other deliveries to some of the houses, would be destroyed and that there would be increased noise pollution due to late evening shopping and early morning deliveries. They claimed there would be an increased risk of anti-social behaviour and that there would be a “lack of safety for the elderly and disabled residents of Church Hill”, as well as difficulty for emergency service vehicles gaining access to the houses if necessary.
A further element of their appeal was that the development would, they stated, cause “difficulty in accessing the graveyard, as well as parking for funeral parties, mourners and visitors to family graves and the implicit disrespect this shows on the part of the county council for allowing this”.
The residents of Circular Road stated that “unavoidable on-street parking” would result in an increase in traffic and “would create difficulty for the residents and potentially life-threatening delays in the operation of the fire and other essential emergency services”.
They also pointed out that there is no pavement from the Kilcornan Estate to Circular Road and “it is clear that there is an increased danger with more traffic”.
They also feared damage to their homes would be caused by heavy vehicle use of the road, adding that “there have been incidents of raw sewage erupting into the street at the junction of Circular Road, Kilcornan and Church Hill and any increased input would put another strain on an already inadequate and old sewage and drainage system and would be foolhardy and dangerous to health.” The residents of Circular Road also said that the proposed building would have a negative visual impact on those living in houses facing the site.
The third appeal was submitted by former Mayor of Clare Flan Garvey. His appeal notes that he lives in Inagh but added that his family came from the town, that “he represented the town as a councillor for many years” and “has strong links with the adjoining residents and the farmers” who also appealed the decision.
He claimed the original application for the proposed supermarket was invalid due to the “inaccurate description of the location” and should have been dismissed. Mr Garvey’s appeal also stated that the site is unsuitable and that a new supermarket would not help the serious traffic problems in the town. He said the design of the development is not sympathetic to the sensitivity of the location and that the elevation of the site would mean it would “act as an entirely separate retail area in competition with the existing retail core”.
A decision on the future of the proposed development is due to be made by mid-December.
By Nicola Norless